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Sunday 21 June 2015

21 June, 2015 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm








Pennillion for Cello & Piano
Fantasy-Piano Trio, Piano Trio No.1 Op.662 (1956, revised 2014)
String Trio for Violin, Viola & Cello (1975)
Elegia Stravagante, Piano Trio No.3 Op.654 (2014)





STOP PRESS: Unfortunately due to an injury Howard Blake is unable to play for us, however we are delighted to welcome Sasha Grynyuk (http://sashagrynyuk.com/) who has stepped in at very short notice. Howard will introduce his pieces.





Concert sponsored by Avril Oulton, a Friend of the Philharmonic.

Publicity/programmes sponsored by Mr & Mrs Julian Pelling, Friends of the Philharmonic.



Pennillion for Cello & Piano 

The title comes from the Welsh custom of singing improvised verses on a given theme to a melody taught by a harper. Here the original folk-like theme is stated at the beginning and end and there are seven variations in between. Pennillion was originally commissioned by Jack Rothstein as a piece for harp and violin and was composed in the water-mill near Cuckfield where Howard lived in the seventies, generating a great feel of the Sussex countryside. This version for cello and piano was created in 2001. A performance of it in Berlin once caused Tagespiegel to comment “…a concisely constructed work with an astonishingly inspired melody.”

1: Theme Moderato

2: Variation Vivo

3: Variation 2 L’istesso tempo

4: Variation 3 Meno mosso (ritmico)

5: Variation 4 Allegro

6: Variation 5 Lento (misterioso)

7: Variation 6 Moderato (grazioso)

8: Theme 1 Tempo primo (tranquillo)


Fantasy-Trio, Piano Trio No.1 Op.662 (1956, revised 2014)

First performance

Composer’s note: “Breaking up from Brighton Grammar School in March 1956 I decided to spend my Easter holidays writing a piano trio. I completed a first movement (Allegro) and jotted some ideas down for a slow movement and a scherzo. Some seven years later Chappells Educational Music decided to publish the first movement only under the title Fantasy-Allegro whilst the other movements were discarded. In 2014 I rather extraordinarily received an inquiry for this ‘Fantasy-Allegro’ and it caused me to dig out the ancient sketches which I found interesting. After this immense gap of nearly 60 years I set about extending the first movement (Allegro), rewriting the second movement (Andante con moto) and reconstructing the third (Scherzando), giving the completed work the name Fantasy-trio No.1. It seemed appropriate that a first performance should be in the town where it was conceived.”

1: Allegro

2: Andante con moto

3: Scherzando


String Trio for Violin, Viola & Cello (1975)

Grego Applegate Edwards in the Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, 11/8/2011, wrote as follows:

“Howard Blake’s string chamber music has a modern tang to it and a kind of linear narrative quality so that you would never think you are hearing a piece by, say, Schumann or Brahms. Yet there is a very lyrical melodic strain to his compositions that puts him apart from what is the norm out there today. The pieces [Spieltrieb, A Month in the Country, Leda and the Swan, and String Trio] all have a pretty ravishing memorability about them.”

1: Allegro energico

2: Andante doloroso

3: Allegro capriccioso


Elegia Stravagante, Piano Trio No.3 Op.654 (2014)

A concert work in an extended one-movement form of seven linked sections.

Composer’s note:

Andante rapsodico: On the afternoon of my birthday I went to sleep for a short while and dreamed up a septuplet ‘trill-flourish’ motif in C major and an ensuing ‘upward-sweeping’ melodic fragment of a minor 2nd and major 7th, both of which I immediately wrote down. This was to be the material on which the trio was based.

Scherzo malizioso: I was searching for a 6/8 allegro idea and worked at several until I suddenly remembered the jazz fugue from Movement for orchestra which I’d written way back in about 1963. It seemed to fit perfectly and work most effectively for piano trio, forming a perfect link between the Andante (rapsodico) and the next section Tragico.

Tragico begins with the upward-sweeping motif, but now very slow and sad. This forms a bridge and modulation to E minor where the cello enunciates the theme ‘Parting’, a fragment I had dreamt up whilst preparing the repertoire for Vladimir Ashkenazy’s album of my piano works in June 2013. Here the ‘Parting’ theme develops greatly, leading quite rapidly and unexpectedly to a colossal climax, then falling down to a paused low chord of C major which begins section 4.

Grave, molto espressivo is a deeply-felt cadenza for violin and cello which then starts to accelerate (piu mosso) towards section 5

Allegro furioso: Cello and violin play in unison at the 16th against a constantly turning piano phrase using the ever-present ‘trill-flourish’ motif. Martial and tragic hints and twists are now overcome by massive upward scalic movements seeking a major key and suddenly triumphantly asserting that of E major.

Giojoso, estatico transforms and inverts the minor ‘upward-sweeping’ theme into a major ‘hymn of triumph’ punctuated with huge piano chords. The energy of this is so great however that it must inevitably sink down to regain stability and a hardly-moving harmonic ‘thirds duplet’ grows gradually quieter and slower until it sinks away to nothing without resolution.

Andante, come prima is the music of the opening returning in the key to which the piece has ascended – E major, the final bar picking up the ‘trill-flourish’ motif and giving the whole work a resolution with a very short coda on violin and cello sounding alone – yet perhaps finally together. The piano is wise enough not to interfere.



Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians states that “Howard Blake has achieved fame as pianist, conductor and composer.” He grew up in Brighton, at 18 winning a scholarship to The Royal Academy of Music where he studied piano with Harold Craxton and composition with Howard Ferguson. In the early part of an intensely active career he wrote numerous film scores, including The Duellists with Ridley Scott which gained the Special Jury Award at the Cannes Festival, A Month in the Country which gained him the British Film Institute Anthony Asquith Award for musical excellence, and The Snowman, nominated for an Oscar after its first screening (1983). The Snowman in its orchestral concert version is still performed world-wide whilst in 2015 the stage show has become the most long-running Christmas show of all time. On the back of his huge success with The Snowman Howard was signed by Faber as publisher and Sony as record company and largely turned his attention towards the composition of concert music. Works included the Clarinet Concerto commissioned by Thea King and the English Chamber Orchestra, the Piano Concerto for Princess Diana commissioned by The Philharmonia,which he also performed, the Violin Concerto commissioned for the City of Leeds, and large-scale choral/orchestral works such as Benedictus and The Passion of Mary recorded with artists such as Robert Tear, Sir David Willcocks and Patricia Rozario. At 76 Howard is increasingly adding to his catalogue of recordings which recently include Sir Neville Marriner conducting the woodwind concertos with The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Walking in the Air, the piano music of Howard Blake, recorded by Vladimir Ashkenazy. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 1988 and received the OBE for services to music from the Queen in 1994.



Born in Kyiv-Ukraine, Sasha Grynyuk studied at the National Music Academy of Ukraine and later at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with Ronan O’Hora. After graduation he also benefited from the artistic guidance of such great musicians as Alfred Brendel and Murray Perahia.

Sasha was described by legendary Charles Rosen as “an impressive artist with remarkable, unfailing musicality always moving with the most natural, electrifying, and satisfying interpretations”.

He regularly performs in the most renowned concert halls throughout Europe, South and North America, Far East and Asia including Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Salle Cortot, Bridgewater Hall, Barbican Hall, Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall.

Winner of over ten International competitions, prizes and awards Sasha was chosen as a Rising Star for BBC Music Magazine and International Piano Magazine. His recent successes also include 1st prizes in the Rio de Janeiro International Piano Competition, Grieg International Piano Competition and Guildhall School’s most prestigious award – the Gold Medal – previously won by such artists as Jacqueline Du Pre and Bryn Terfel.



Peter Adams’s career can be truly described as meteoric. When most musicians are still at school, the sixteen year old Peter was playing in the orchestra of London Festival Ballet.

By the time he was 21 he had become Principal Cellist of both the London String Orchestra and the London City Ballet. Perhaps even more remarkably he became in the same year Professor of viola da gamba and baroque cello at the Royal Academy of Music – the youngest ever professor in the Academy’s history. Not content with these achievements, four years later Peter embarked upon a two-year period of further study at Indiana University, taking lessons and masterclasses with such legendary figures as Janos Starker and Paul Tortelier, before returning from America to study further with William Pleeth.

Peter’s orchestral career has earned him principal positions with the English String Orchestra, the Brighton Philharmonic and the Oxford Philomusica. In addition to his orchestral work Peter is keenly interested in chamber music, having been a founder member of the Rogeri Trio and currently a member of the Bochmann Quartet. Throughout this time he has maintained his interest in early music through solo appearances on viola da gamba and his directorship of the Elizabethan Consort of Viols. When he is not playing his beloved 1697 Rogeri cello or teaching for Oxford University and Oundle and Bloxham Schools, Peter Adams enjoys driving his Maigret-style 1951 Citroën while collecting Georgian glass and English oak furniture. He also makes regular forays across the Channel to enjoy the family home in France and keep the Adams cellar well-stocked.



21 June, 2015
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Brighton Unitarian Church
New Road
Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1UF United Kingdom
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